Michael Jennings - That Bulldog British Spirit
By JD Camacho, DoghouseBoxing.com (Feb 21, 2009)  
Tonight, the World Boxing Organization grants Michael Jennings the chance to fight Miguel Cotto for their vacant title. A British lad. An Arum fighter. A WBO mandatory.

Haven’t we seen this movie before?

In June 2008, Welshman Gary Lockett exercised his WBO mandatory and fought Bob Arum’s power-punching middleweight champion Kelly Pavlik. Pavlik blitzed and embarrassed Lockett in three bomb-sided rounds.

Does Jennings see the same ending, or can he flip the script?

The American media seems to think otherwise. ESPN’s Dan Rafael called Jennings woefully “ordinary.” Betting odds are anywhere from 10-1 to 30-1 for Jennings to win. And most of the boxing press (justifiably, perhaps) finds more interest in the bounce-back of Miguel Cotto than any upside of Michael Jennings.

But the British are confident. Papers filled with encouraging headlines flood the streets of Jennings’ hometown. Steve Bunce of Setanta Sports believes Jennings has a shot “if Cotto’s head’s not right and if he takes his foot off the pedal.” Jennings himself told Seconds Out not to “worry,” and that he’d “bring the belt home.”

Gary Lockett experienced similar support and expressed similar confidence. Gary Lockett also experienced a frightful beating. But support came from home nonetheless, and that perhaps goes hand-in-hand with the desire to “bring the belt home” – back to Great Britain. It’s that kind of selflessness – or, at least perceived selflessness – that may spur the British faithful to lend out their love. In a boxing world where egotism and superficiality can scar even the most talented fighter’s image, the British have carved out a niche for crafting the gritty-but-grounded good guy.

It’s perhaps that very “ordinary”-ness that Rafael described which engenders belief in fighters like Lockett and Jennings. Neither possesses any one outstanding trait. They both come from towns that would make New Haven look like a metropolis. And they’re both soft-spoken and honest. Things like that can go a long way in drumming up support – and a fan base to boot. Just ask Ricky Hatton.

“It’s like Manchester United,” told Brian Hughes, Jennings’ trainer, to Seconds Out. “They’re certain they’re going to win. And this lad’s got that bulldog British spirit.”

If only we all could be so lucky – both the fighters and fans.


-I understand David Haye is just the kind of loudmouth that goes against said niche, but he’s a heavyweight. That doesn’t count, in my book…
-I never thought much of Kermit Cintron as a fighter, but I feel for him. I mean, he was hit tons of times by Antonio Margarito’s possibly loaded gloves. Sergio Martinez must hit like a baseball bat if Cintron confused his fist for his skull…
-Nate Campbell is a welcome addition to the junior welterweight class. If Timothy Bradley gets by Kendall Holt, Bradley and Campbell can roll the dice and decide whether Bradley should be 25 and 0 or 24 and Nate…
-Hatton-Pacquiao 24/7 is coming. Get your Mayweather Senior rhyme sheets ready…

JD at: jdcamachorj@gmail.com

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